Damien Willis of Las Cruces was recognized as a nominee for the 2020 Communicator of Achievement Award from the National Federation of Press Women (NFPW). This prestigious award has been given for 63 years. Willis was one of 10 nominees recognized during a virtual celebration held in lieu of events at the organization’s annual conference, which was canceled this year due to the pandemic.
Now in its 83rd year, NFPW is a nationwide organization of professional women and men pursuing careers across the spectrum of journalism and communications. The Communicator of Achievement award is the highest honor bestowed by NFPW upon those members who have distinguished themselves within and beyond their field. The recipient, chosen from nominees selected by state affiliates from around the country, is recognized for exceptional achievement in the communications field, as well as service to NFPW, the affiliate organization and the community.
Willis, vice president of New Mexico Press Women, has built a career in journalism and communications now exceeding 20 years. His work has included 13 years as a popular local radio-station DJ, public relations officer for the local attorney general’s office and Las Cruces Public Schools, and traditional newspaper journalism. He has written 800 consecutive columns on entertainment for the Las Cruces Sun-News and is now lead reporter and coach for the paper.
Sandy Michel Nance of Wheat Ridge, Colo., a retired journalist and public relations professional, was chosen from among the nominees as NFPW’s 2020 Communicator of Achievement. Nance was one of a handful of early female news bureau staffers with United Press International (UPI), was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for reporting at the Casper, Wyo., Star-Tribune, worked in public relations for Mountain Bell and US West, and was a publications editor for the American Water Works Association.